Altina the Sword Princess, Vol. 9

By Yukiya Murasaki and himesuz. Released in Japan as “Haken no Kouki Altina” by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Roy Nukia.

I’ve been waiting for plot developments like the end of this volume to happen for some time. Regis is a bit of a Golden Boy throughout the series – that’s the point, he uses his brains and Altina’s brawn and royal presence to help seize the day, even when it’s involving a bubbling under civil war. And now he’s been noticed enough that he’s forced from her side to Latrielle, the heir apparent, and is giving him the best advice fictional books can buy. Now, we’ve seen him lose troops based on his decisions before, to the point where he almost passed out, but the advice was correct and they won the day. Here, though, not to spoil too much, his advice is good but they do not win the day. Someone has anticipated him. They lose, and there are many casualties. And this is when you realize that, for all that the country is supposed to be on the same side fighting Britannia, Regis is very much surrounded by enemies.

Of course, the book is not just about Regis. Jessica, Franziska and Martina want to rescue their brother, but can’t, and they’re deep in enemy territory. So they accept the kind offer of the man who saved them last time to stay at his place. His place, of course, turns out to be the castle, much to their shock. (Elize is there as well, but one senses the author is not really sure what to do with her.) Altina is back at her fortress, dealing with Eric’s game-breaking injury, and finds that even though Regis is away from her side he can still come up with advice to win the day – in this case, suggesting a career change for Eric that would still allow them to remain a soldier protecting Altina. We get a brief glimpse of the enemy, which is dealing with a major problem – Queen Margaret is bored with all this and therefore doesn’t care what happens.

And then, as I noted, we get Regis’ plan to defeat the enemy, which is anticipated and rebuffed. He does get in one small triumph, which allows us to meet yet another new cast member and promises to take up a chunk of Book 10, but it also involves the deaths of a LOT of men – and these are not his own troops of the Fourth Division, which is back at Altina’s side. The generals were already annoyed with Regis for sacrificing their units earlier, they’re now livid. Fortunately for Regis, Latrielle is not stupid, and knows that the plan could have worked and exactly who was clever enough to anticipate it. The generals may be angry, but they know not to argue with their future King. As for Regis, I think it’s a good lesson for him, especially mentally. Now if he can only work on his physical stamina, which is laughably pathetic.

The author already admitted the final part of this book got so long it has to finish in the next book, so we’ll see what happens then. In the meantime, this is a solid volume of Altina that shows events moving along slowly but surely – will we see the end of the war with Britannia next time?

Altina the Sword Princess, Vol. 8

By Yukiya Murasaki and himesuz. Released in Japan as “Haken no Kouki Altina” by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Roy Nukia.

Since this volume was released on the same day as the short story compilation, you end up with two Altina reviews in a row. Fortunately, there’s a lot of ground to cover here, as we pick up right where we left off – with Latrielle having just murdered his dissolute father and consort in a fit of disgust. Naturally, this particular part is covered up, but the fact that the King is dead is absolutely not – meaning not only that Latrielle is going to be the next King, but that Altina is no longer in the line of succession. Admittedly, he’s not quite crowned yet. What’s possibly worse is that the military and the crown are finally forcing Regis to return to the capital to get his promotion and title… and no, Altina has an army, she can’t just tag along. That’s right, we’re breaking the fellowship here, and I have a suspicion it may be for multiple books. That said, those who are fond of the low-flame romantic feels in this book might be pleased.

There are, of course, other things going on besides Altina and Regis liking each other and being unable to convey it properly. Regis’ impact is felt on multiple people, especially Clarisse, who may couch it in the form of teasing but clearly likes Regis a whole lot more than she’s ever going to let on. There’s also the matter of Gilbert, the mercenary that was captured last volume, and trying to negotiate so that he’ll join them rather than simply be executed as everyone expects. Unfortunately, the news of the King’s death makes negotiations fall apart a bit. Gilbert’s three sisters are still at large, although they’re a lot less dangerous on their own. And Bastian and Eliza are returning from Britannia after events in the short story collection, meaning there’s another royal to throw into this chaos. With all this going on, there is also personal defeat – Eric’s injury has injured their hand to the point of being unable to use a sword anymore, and Eric is devastated by this.

Despite all the bad news, there is quite a bit of comedy in this book, mostly stemming from Regis’ inhuman self-deprecation, which has actually become a genuine weakness – praise seems to cause him pain. Given that he’s generally considered by everyone not named Regis to be a brilliant strategist, you can imagine how he holds up when he’s escorted by a gorgeous young woman to return to the capital to get a promotion and a title – he’d rather be doing anything else. Altina is also her usual blockheaded, mildly tsundere self – please do not pull anyone into your boobs when you are wearing armor, kid. I get the feeling she’s gonna miss Regis more than he’s gonna miss her, at least in terms of the war. What’s more, given Latrielle assigning Regis as his aid for the immediate future, their separation may be longer than expected.

The author continues to write both this and How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord at the same time, which if nothing else shows off their ability to write in different styles. For those who like a fun, action-filled fantasy with much less fanservice than the other title, Altina remains a solid bet.

Altina the Sword Princess: Loose Threads

By Yukiya Murasaki and himesuz. Released in Japan as “Haken no Kouki Altina” by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Roy Nukia.

Yes, as you guessed from the title of the book, it’s time for a short story collection. That said, there’s only three stories in this volume, so they’re pretty long. The first of these stories is essentially an Encyclopedia Brown story with Regis as the title character and Altina as Sally, made all the more impressive by the fact that they haven’t actually met each other yet when it occurs. Altina is at her new command, but no one is taking her seriously yet. Meanwhile, Regis’ commander has just died and he’s busy waiting to be demoted/exiled. And then a crate of expensive wine goes missing in Altina’s camp, and they try to find the culprit. This shows off Regis’ ability to be “the smart one”, although frankly the solution to this problem was not all that hard. More to the point, it establishes the relationship he and Altina will have before they even see each other, and as such it’s rather sweet.

The second story is also a “how they met”, as we get a closer look at Eddie, the erstwhile knight protector and lover of Auguste… or rather of Felicia, the 5th princess who is pretending to be Auguste. There is some cute writing here, mostly in the author trying to have the reader think some sexytimes are happening and then having it be something totally innocent, but for the most part this is a serious story. Eddie is renowned for being a soldier who doesn’t kill, and as such is regarded as a coward and a failure, mostly as his detractors are a bit too rock-headed to see how strong you have to be to do the level of not-killing that Eddie does. The revelation that it was Felicia who started him on this path is a bit on the nose, but nice. I also enjoyed the multiple descriptions, both in this and the following story, of Altina as this monster who can lift cows by herself and is not someone to imitate at all.

The final story is the one specially written for this book (the other two were previously published), and continues the story of Bastian and Eliza from the fourth volume, who if you’ll recall were last seen near death and had a death warrant put on them by the usurper queen. They’ve managed to find refuge with one of the few families not willing to sell them out, but it’s still tough times. This story hammers home something we also saw in Eddie’s story, which is that the best way to have peace is not to fight. Unfortunately, that can be difficult, especially as Bastian’s family has been doing nothing but fighting for four centuries now. He also gets a crash course in democracy from a young student who is also having to lay low while the war is going on, and might be reconsidering the whole “noble/commoner” dichotomy. This is the most serious story in the book, and looks like it might serve as a way to get the third prince back into the main storyline.

Which we will see next time, as Altina the Sword Princess 8 is… already released! But definitely read this volume first. It’s a good collection.